The End of an Era

She saw it all; good and bad; the indomitable human spirit that took men to the moon, technological innovations that made the lives of humans easier; two World Wars, the Great Depression, the Financial Crisis, and the latest of all, the menace of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II on Feb 6, 2017, became the first British monarch to celebrate a Sapphire Jubilee, marking 65 years on the throne. She was not a towering figure just in Britain.  She was also the Head of State of 14 other countries, including Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. And at the age of 96, she peacefully passed away.

Born in April 21, 1926, she was named Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary and was the first child of the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, later called the Queen Mother. In December 10, 1936, she became heir-apparent to the throne after her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated and her father became king.

And on October 13, 1940, when she was just 14, she made her first public speech on the BBC Children’s Hour to reassure children who had been separated from their parents during the Blitz. On November 20, 1947, she married Prince Philip Mountbatten of Greece and Denmark at Westminster Abbey.

On February 6, 1952, she became queen upon the death of her father George VI. However, it was on June 2, 1953, that she was crowned in a grand coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

The Queen was loved by all and sundry. She was the fulcrum around which Great Britain revolved. Her popularity was not just within the boundaries of Great Britain.

On November 7, 1999, Australians woke to the realization that their largely pro-republican country had voted decisively to retain the British monarch as head of state for the foreseeable future. With four-fifths of the vote counted, tallies in the country’s Saturday referendum showed that 55% had voted to retain Queen Elizabeth II as head of state rather than allow the political elite to appoint a home-grown president. All but one of the country’s six states voted to maintain the status quo, with only the slimmest of majorities for the republican cause in Victoria.

In May 1965, she made a historic visit to West Germany, the first German visit by a British monarch in 52 years. This was the balm that healed the bruises of the two World Wars. Great Britain and Germany become closer. The past was buried and a new relation began. Similarly, in May 2011, she made a historic visit to Ireland — the first visit by a British monarch since Irish independence.

More than a year back, on April 9, 2021, Prince Philip, Elizabeth’s husband of 73 years, passed away at the age of 99. But like great leaders, she took the loss with grace and dignity.

We do not know much about what the Queen did. However, she was loved, not just in England but beyond. She was revered. But everything is fleeting, transient, just as the late Queen. It is not the Queen of England that the World has lost, but a civilization in itself. An era has ended.